When Do I Need to Replace My Hot Water Heater?

With a working hot water heater, we can take nice hot showers, we can properly clean and sterilize our dishes, and we can wash our dirty laundry. We can all agree that one of the greatest inventions in modern plumbing is the hot water heater. What happens if your water is no longer running hot? Is it time to fix or replace your water heating unit?

Water Heater Basics

There are two basic types of water heaters: gas and electric. Gas heaters are usually installed in homes that already use gas appliances, whereas electric water heaters can be used just about anywhere.

The average lifespan of a water heater is 8 to 12 years, which varies with the unit design, quality of installation, the maintenance history, and wear and tear.

If your water heater is over 10 years old, and it’s not working right, or there are leaks around the base of the tank, or it’s not working at all, then a replacement is probably in order. However, before calling a plumber, you want to make sure that a blown fuse or a tripped breaker isn’t the reason why it’s not running.

Common Water Heater Problems

Obviously, the most common problem is that a water heater isn’t pumping out water that is as hot as you want it to be. In that case, the problem usually stems from a defective heating element or a faulty thermostat.

Other warning signs:

  • Muddy water comes out of the faucet
  • A hissing, cracking, popping or sizzling noise
  • A leaking pressure-relief valve
  • Leaking water supply pipes
  • Increased sediment in the water
  • Water with a metallic taste to it

The good news is that today’s water heaters require very little servicing. But, as with any household appliance, many repairs can be avoided with routine maintenance. To extend the life of your water heater:

  • Drain the water two times a year in order to remove collected sediment which causes corrosion and makes the unit less efficient. However, use caution when draining the hot water to avoid getting burned.
  • Annually test the unit’s pressure relief valve. Put on thick gloves, and then lift the valve’s handle and let it snap back – if it doesn’t release a burst of water into the overflow drainpipe, then you need to install a new valve.
  • Set the thermostat to 120 degrees. By lowering the temperature, you’re reducing damage to the tank that’s caused by overheating.

If your water heater is acting up, or not working at all, contact A-1 Sewer & Septic Service Inc. Our Kansas City plumbers have been serving the Kansas City Metro Area since 1968 – no job is too small or too big for us to handle!

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